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OUTBREAK: Experts Fear Global Pandemic Of New Middle East Virus

image courtesy of The Canadian Press

An unknown virus which is spreading across the Middle East has scientists very concerned about a potential global pandemic. Although there are currently only 50 known cases of the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the mortality rate is extremely high.

More than half of those who have been afflicted with the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus have died. The World Health Organization (WHO) reportedly feels that MERS-CoV could become a threat on a global scale. Those who have survived the virus have reportedly suffered through “very severe” complications.

MERS-CoV presents with flu-like symptoms and ultimately attacks the respiratory systems. MERS-CoV is similar to a SARS-type virus. Patients fall into kidney failure, experience gastrointestinal symptoms, and often contract pneumonia after becoming victims of the new Middle Eastern virus. The vast majority of the MERS-CoV case so far stem from the Arabian Peninsula.

World Health Organization officials recently noted that Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus is now showing up in other regions of the world. Cases have now been reported in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The patient in France had recently been to Dubai. The man ultimately died as a result of multiple organ failure the final week of May. WHO officials do not yet understand how MERS-CoV spreads or how to curtail the outbreak.

Alabama health officials recently reported cases of a “mysterious” illness that caused two deaths in the southeastern region of the state. The unknown type of respiratory disease has also sent five people to the hospital. Local health department officials do not yet know the origins of the disease.

The world has become a whole lot smaller during the past two decades. The movie Contagion fairly accurately detailed how quickly a single infected person could contaminate not just a single city, but the multiple continents. There is no proof the respiratory virus impacting citizens in Alabama is linked, but the symptoms and patient outcomes are eerily similar.

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World Health Organization officials believe MERS-CoV may originate from the animal world, but they currently have no idea from which species. Health officials and scientists were also not sure if the transmission was strictly from animal-to-human until late last week. Animal samples obtained during an investigation of the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus have reportedly been sent to a lab in America for testing. The samples were taken from bats, cats, sheep, and camels.

Verified human-to-human contraction which occurred in Saudi Arabia has prompted even more concerns about a possible global pandemic. Medical experts now have growing concerns about the health risks to hospital staffers working closely with infected patients.

The Jordan Health Ministry sent 124 respiratory samples from patients to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC spokeswoman Jeanette St. Pierre stated that after the sample tests are completed, the results will be released to the health ministry in Jordan for “further reporting.”

global pandemicOn May 30, a possible case of the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus appeared in Morocco. If tests confirm the presence of MERS-CoV, the man will be the first known patient in the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabian Health Minister Ziad Memish stated that six of the newest MERS-CoV cases are part of a hospital cluster in the eastern region of the Middle Eastern country. Another cluster of patients were treated in the Al-Ahsa area early last month.

Being a part of the novel coronavirus group, the disease boasts symptoms which can mimic those of the common cold. Although SARS and MERS are from the same family of viruses, the diseases differ on a genetic basis, leading scientists to believe they did originate independently from one another.

National Geographic’s Nathan Wolfe, a virologist, had this to say about identifying and understanding a new virus:

“We regularly collect blood from people and animals throughout the world. Advances in microbial discovery techniques have increased our ability to find new viruses. For example, recently we identified a novel rhabdovirus from three cases of acute hemorrhagic fever in Central Africa. We knew the virus was novel for two reasons: first, because it had a unique genetic signature distinct from all previously identified human viruses, and second, because it caused symptoms previously seen only in infections from viruses from other viral families, such as Ebola, Marburg, and yellow fever.”

Wolfe, who authored, The Viral Storm, also founded both the Metabiota and Global Viral organizations. The groups work together in an attempt to thwart global pandemics. The virologist accurately noted that the increased mobility of the world’s population has definitely increased the potential for a global pandemic. Wolfe also stated the complex nature of the food supply chain also enhances the likelihood of a new disease spreading quickly around the globe. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, a majority of food sold in American grocery stores now comes from China. Approximately 50 percent of all food recalls in the United States stems from Chinese consumables imports.

United Nation’s WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan had this to say about the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus:

“It is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond.”

Health officials involved with investigating the MERS-CoV virus all agree on one very important fact—the disease appears to be spreading rapidly around the world. World Health Organization Officials are reluctant to “put a region” on the MERS-Cov virus, despite the fact that the bulk of the confirmed cases stem from Saudi Arabia.

Worried international officials and citizens alike have asked if the WHO is going to impose some type of quarantine or travel restriction, but the health organization is currently unwilling to recommend such a measure, despite citing “grave concerns” about a global pandemic.

It doesn’t require an advanced medical degree (just a little good ole’ fashioned common sense) to see that a travel restriction is in order. Confining the new virus, for which there is no vaccine, should trump any type of political concerns. Fears of being labeled politically incorrect should be quickly cast aside when discussions of a potentially life-saving travel restriction is being bantered about. It does not matter if MERS-CoV originated in the Middle East or the tropical paradise of Belize.

If all the available evidence supports the theory that the killing machine disease is prevalent in a specific region, then folks from that area should not be permitted to travel elsewhere until the outbreak is contained.


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